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27 August 2011

Calming the Storm

The miracle stories in the life of Jesus are so well known and so beloved to me and many readers that I think that it is easy to take them for granted. Whether one reads them literally or literarily, those stories come from an entirely different world. It is a world that I have trouble recognizing when hurricanes, tsunamis, and earthquakes devastate peoples around the world. And while there are would-be interpreters who leap to blame people for experiencing or succumbing to natural disasters, I've noticed that they don't claim to be able to calm those storms. Perhaps their blame-placing should be understood as a tacit admission that they cannot do what Jesus did.
I believe in miracles and in the power of prayer. And I believe that sometimes people inexplicably survive natural disasters and violent encounters because of the grace of God and perhaps, because of the prayers of the faithful.
It strikes me that those who claim to be able to reproduce all of the miracles of Jesus don't try to walk on the water or calm the storm. (I have heard of people praying to redirect storms, and for that matter to heal the sick and raise the dead.)
But there is something about the take-no-prisoners, suffer-no-fools oceans that cover the earth on which our land-islands seem to be perched so precariously that illustrate the void between the biblical world and our own.
Yet these stories are scriptural and canonical for me. They live and breathe and I hear God in and through them. Some of their most powerful incarnations are in the sacred music of the black church.
I love James Cleveland's Peace Be Still:

It is a sermon which needs no preacher. I love the line that "no water can swallow the ship where lies the master of ocean and earth and skies." And when the disciples in the song are in trouble, they call out "Get up Jesus!' I love it.
And while I know that I cannot walk on the water - I'm clear - when Donald Lawrence sings in the voice of Jesus "Oh Peter, don't be afraid...I am Mary's baby...walk out on the water..." I want to walk with him. (You may want to ff through the first minute of the video which is a conversation.")

I can't explain how these sacred stories and their musical interpretation inspire me when they fly in the face of everything I know about nature, physics and even miracles. They speak to me of a reality that transcends our own.
Lastly, there is Douglas Miller's "My Soul Has Been Anchored" which proclaims that "if the storms don't cease, and if the winds keep on blowing in my life, my soul has been anchored in the Lord."



Though the storms keep on raging in my life
And sometimes it's hard to tell the night from day
Still that hope that lies within is reassured as I keep my eyes upon the distant shore
I know He'll lead me safely to that blessed place He has prepared
But if the storm don't cease and if the winds keep on blowing in my life
My soul has been anchored in the Lord.
I realize that sometimes, in this life, we're gonna be tossed be the waves and the currents that seem so fierce
But in the Word of God -- I've got an anchor, 
oh yes I have, and keeps me steadfast, unmoveable, despite the tide
But if the storm don't cease and if the winds keep on blowing in my life
My soul has been anchored in the Lord
My soul's been anchored 
My soul's been anchored 
My soul's been anchored 
My soul's been anchored 
The billows may roll, the breakers may dash
I will not stray because He holds me fast
Some darkless day that lies in the sky
I know it's all right 'cause Jesus is nigh
My soul's been anchored 
My soul's been anchored 
My soul's been anchored 
My soul's been anchored 
You crush me down but Jesus picks me up
He sticks right by me when the going gets tough
My soul's been anchored 
My soul's been anchored 
My soul's been anchored 
My soul has been anchored in the Lord.

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